Books: Cover Stories

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
SENSIBLE VOICES have noted that, in relation to Nick Hornby's sales, his alleged pounds 2m advance for world rights to two books is probably quite a bargain. Neither was his move to Penguin born out of avarice. Gollancz has changed much since he signed up with Fever Pitch, but nothing was more significant than the death of Liz Knights, the editor who nurtured his talent. With Gollancz recently acquired by Orion, he would seem to have made the break at the right time. And had Hornby done an Amis, hawking himself around every publisher in town, he could surely have made twice as much.


NEITHER DOES greed explain Sue Townsend's move to Penguin. Loyalty does, for the creator of Adrian Mole has rejoined her editor, Louise Moore, who defected from Methuen when the company was acquired by Random House. Townsend was less than happy with the way that her last novel, Ghost Children, was published, and her decision to quit Methuen will cost her dear: she will have to repay her advance. Just as the young Mole was highly critical of Thatcher, so 30-year-old Adrian will be equally critical of Blair in The Cappuccino Years, due this autumn. Just as well, then, that Townsend has left Random House; its chief executive, Gail Rebuck, is one of Tony's cronies.


BERTELSMANN, THE German media combine which now owns Random House, has embarked on an examination of its conduct during the Second World War. In a series of articles, historian Hersh Fischler alleges that, under the Third Reich, the company published more than a dozen books expressing pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic sentiments. Though Bertelsmann was shut by the Nazis in 1943, Fischler contends this move had more to do with black-market sales than any political dissent. Thomas Middelhoff, the firm's new chief executive, has appointed a panel to investigate allegations. He has promised that "no matter what we find, we will tell the public".


CRIME FICTION'S two leading Ladies, P D James and Ruth Rendell, have joined forces with W H Smith to raise money for Shelter. Until the end of the month, the retailer will donate pounds 1 every time a customer buys two books by one or both authors. On 28 January, Lady James and Lady Rendell perform a literary double act for a Shelter benefit at the London Planetarium. Tickets, price pounds 10, are available from London branches of WHS.